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The big problem with solar cells is of course that they do not generate any electricity when the sun is not shining. It can be solved by supplementing with electricity from other sources or you take excess electricity when the sun is shining and store it in a battery. The best known example of such a battery is probably Tesla's Powerwall, but now there is another variant from Australia.
The company Lavo is launching its battery, Lavo System. Unlike Powerwall, which consists of lithium-ion batteries, Lavo System is powered by hydrogen. Calling it a battery is perhaps also a bit misleading. It not only stores energy in the form of hydrogen but also creates the hydrogen through electrolysis.
You connect a water hose to Lavo System which then splits the water into oxygen, which is released into the air, and hydrogen gas which is stored in the battery part. The battery consists of a fuel cell that is constructed in a metal hybrid material which, according to Lavo, is safe so that there is no risk of explosion. The electricity for the electrolysis comes from the solar cells on the roof.
Lavo System can store 40 kWh, which should be enough for two days of electricity consumption in an ordinary household, if there is a shortage. It is more than twice the capacity of Powerwall .
Another advantage of the Lavo System is that, unlike storage with lithium-ion batteries, it does not contain any hazardous substances that must be handled when it is to be recycled. In addition, it takes longer before it needs to be recycled. Lavo expects their system to last for 30 years. Systems with lithium-ion batteries may last for 15 years.
Lavo System has just gone from being a prototype to becoming a commercial product that Lavo now sells in Australia. However, it is a very fresh product and it has some disadvantages that Lavo may need to fix before launching it globally.
For example, the price is quite high, around $22 500, but it will hopefully fall when the system can be mass-produced. Then the output power is currently not higher than five kilowatts, which is quite low.
But as said, this is the first version of Lavo System and if nothing else, it shows that interest in building storage solutions for renewable energy is increasing. We will certainly have more and better solutions in this area.